About Lord Nelson Victory Tugs
Loren and Lani Hart founded Lord Nelson, Ltd. which produced the 37 and 49 Victory Tugs
Fu Yi (Tommy) Chen, designed the 41s and built all the LNVTs in Taiwan
Jim Backus, marine architect on the LNVT 37 and 49.

Company History

On 27 July 1981 Loren and Lani Hart founded Admiralty Ltd., an import trading company incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. Admiralty Ltd. contracted with Tommy Chen, owner of Taiwan based Ocean Eagle Yacht Building Corporation, to build the 35' and 41' Lord Nelson sailboats. In 1983 the contract expanded to include the 37' Victory Tugs. The contract expanded again in 1986 to include the 49' LNVT. Lane Finley purchased Admiralty Ltd. in 1988. In 1989 Admiralty Ltd. was sold to Tommy Chen.1 Production of the 37' and 49' Victory Tugs ceased in 1989. In 1992 the first 41' Victory Tug was made. LNVT production ceased in 1998. A total of 86 LNVTs were built: 75 (37's), 3 (41s)', and 8 (49's).


Length No. Built Draft Beam Displacement Staterooms/Heads Engine Cruise Range
37' / 11m 76 (1983 - 1988) 3' 6" / 1.1m 13'2" / 4.0m 20,500 lbs 1/1 150x1 7 kt 1,200 nm
41' / 13.7m 3 (1992 - 1999) 4' 4" / 1.3m 14'6" / 4.4m 35,000 lbs 1-2/1 210x1 7.5 kt 1,000 nm
49' / 16.3m 8 (1987 - 1988) 5'8" / 1.7m 16'6" / 5.0m 62,000 lbs 2/3 225x12 9 kt 3,000 nm

37' Lord Nelson Victory Tug

Loren Hart cites the success of the Nordic Tug 26', which premiered at the 1980 Seattle International Boat Show, as being influential in his decision to design and build a tug himself. He believed there was a good market for a larger tug and decided on a 37'. James Backus, naval architect, credits Loren Hart with the original concept for the Victory Tug.3 Jim's inspiration for the yacht's dramatic sheer lines came from New York City's Moran Tugs of the 1950’s and 1960’s. He specifically incorporated the superstructure and raised bow which give the appearance of a working tugboat. Below the waterline, the full-displacement hull has elements of a Maine lobster boat shape with a full-length ballasted keel extending under a single propeller. Jim's design conforms to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and American Boat Yacht Council (ABYC) 1985 standards for vessels up to 200 feet in length. A working mast and boom enables a steadying sail and provides a lifting capacity for hoisting a dinghy and other gear onto the upper or 'boat' deck. The design allows for the engine and fuel tanks to be removed without cutting holes in the boat. The interior design is that of a luxury yacht with features such as teak and holly sole and varnished cabinetry made from solid woods with detailed joinery.

A total of 75 tugs were built4. Construction of hulls numbered 1-18 was at the Hai O Yachts Corporation yard in Taiwan. Work began on the first 37' in 1982. The hull was laid in May of 1983 and delivered to the first owner, Dr. Fletcher, later that year. Hulls from this yard show "HAO" within the hull number. Starting with hull #19, Victory Tugs were built by Ocean Eagle Yacht Building Corp., Pali Hsiang, Taiwan. Hulls from this yard show "OEY" within the hull number. The last 37' Victory Tug hull, #76, was laid in March 1989 and delivered later that year. Construction at both yards was managed by Tommy Chen. This very informative LNVT Sales Process spreadsheet shows when each tug was ordered, when it was built, when it was shipped, when it arrived in the U.S., who the first owner was, how much the tug sold for, and the cost of the equipment options.


In a 2000 interview with then LNVT Owners Association president Mitch Page, Jim Backus (the LNVTs designer) remarked, "What I was looking for was a 'slick' hull so we went with a Maine lobster boat bottom as I knew that they performed well as a displacement and semi-displacement hull form. The transom was then changed as much as possible to give the tug look without causing the water coming out of the stem from changing direction too much…. A compromise of bilge design was required to give the design some roll while not making it excessive. If the bilges were too full, the bilges would have a snap roll that would wear anyone down quickly. On the other hand, having too slack a bilge would give the sense of going over and maybe not coming back. I think a happy medium was reached here as I never received any complaints from owners… The prismatic coefficient of the Victory Tug 37 is .63 and the block coefficient is .36. The tug was designed as a displacement hull so the prismatic was kept low, but not as low as a sailboat, which by today's standards would be between .54 and .56. At the 2006 rendezvous in Seattle, Jim Backus reported that hull speed is 8.08 knots and calculations, made with Rhino 3D modeling software, indicate the boat will right itself from a point up to 85 degrees over from vertical. More Jim Backus design comments are available at http://lnvt.wikidot.com/jimbackus.


Two major molds were used to make a tug. The first, a topside mold, formed the cabin tops, cabin sides, deck and inner bulwark. The second, a hull mold, formed the keel, hull, and outer bulwark. The hull mold was a clam-shell type, bolted longitudinally along the center line from stem to stern. The hull of the 37’ Victory Tug is solid fiberglass. There are 11 layers of fiberglass (35% resin) starting with the keel and extending to a point six inches above the waterline, and then seven layers of fiberglass thereafter. Several minor molds were used as well: the smoke stack; the pilothouse's eyebrow; dorade box interior; and pilothouse window wells. According to a Yard Memo published sometime in 1985 Lord Nelson made the following changes to their layup schedule:

  • Laying up the first underwater layup coat in epoxy resin, which in relationship to ordinary resin is far superior in strength and water resistant characteristics.
  • The next three layers of resins are constructed out of the new ISO Phthalic resin, which results in an overall increase in physical hardness, and increased structural longevity with the added advantage of being highly water resistant.
  • An additional improvement to our hull layup, is the introduction of the new DMB Fiberglass Cloth (double bias matt), which enhances the beauty of our gelcoat by virtually eliminating cloth print-through into the gel coat. Its other outstanding quality is increased strength of each layup in which it is used. (Double the strength at half the weight.)

Approximately 3000 pounds of iron ballast is laminated into the keel. Once the topsides were positioned over the hull, a secondary fiberglass layup permanently connected the two structures. Thanks to the secondary layup an LNVT has no mechanical deck-to-hull fasteners to come loose, degrade, or provide a channel for water intrusion below decks. After the fiberglassing is done work began on the interior. A single, large teak log, quarter sawn, provided matching wood for the cabin sole, bead board, valences, cabinets, deck and trim in each boat. The tongue-and-groove interior overhead is made of Indonesian Laban wood (vitex pinnata). Fit and finish throughout is excellent because the carpenters assembled the various components (galley cabinetry, hanging lockers, etc.) while working inside each hull. Powdered Weldwood was used on wood cabinetry joints. A two-part Japanese finish was used on the interior brightwork. An extensive use of curved surfaces throughout characterizes the woodwork and interior form.

The 37's finish details evolved tremendously during the six years they were built. An evolving wiki page with pictures of the changes and the hull numbers when they occurred may be found at: http://www.lnvt.wikidot.com/tug-differences

Tommy Chen and Loren Hart in Taiwan


In 1984 a new 37’ Lord Nelson Victory Tug sold for US$86,700 (as compared to about $45,000 for a new 36’ Grand Banks trawler). When asked what the cost to build a new 37' Victory Tug if built today (August 2006), Loren Hart responded, "A guess would be in excess of $400,000."

41' Lord Nelson Victory Tug

The 41' Victory Tugs were Tommy Chen's idea and were the the last LNVTs to be built.5 Tommy said that he took the best from the 49’s and the 37’s and molded them into the 41’s.6 While there are six hull numbers in the fleet, only three 41’s were built.

  • Hull #41-1 was the mold7
  • Hull #41-2
  • Hull #41-3 and #41-4 were not completed as LNVTs but were sold as bare hulls
  • Hull #41-5 built in 1997 in Taiwan
  • Hull #41-6 built in 1998 in Taiwan and finished in China

The last 41 was finished in 1999 at the South Coast Marine yard in Taiwan (Code SCM in the hull number. The same yard used by PAE for some of the Nordhavns). 41's were built on a stretched 37 mold. In addition to being a larger boat than the 37', the 41's were built with less emphasis on handmade teak cabinets and brightwork and more emphasis on low maintenance. The boats have more fiberglass components than the 37's and 49's. At the time the 41's were built, it was no longer possible to obtain the large teak logs used in the 37' and 49' (The government of Taiwan had made it illegal to cut the trees which were often 200 years old), and labor costs for carpentry had increased dramatically. The first 41 built looks very much like a bigger 37. The next two hulls look a little different. The most obvious change is that the pilot house was moved forward.

49' Lord Nelson Victory Tug

The 49' Victory Tugs very closely follow the design and building concepts of the 37's. They began production in late 1986. Starting with hull #49-2 a total of 8 were built. There is no evidence of a hull #49-1 so it's possible that they counted the plug, which was never made into a finished boat, as hull #1. The picture at right shows Loren Hart standing in front of the buck (near ground) and the plug (foreground) around which the LNVT 49' molds were fabricated. It's interesting to note that the inner bulwark, deck and cabin were laid up together and in one mold. The picture clearly shows the buck has inward leaning bulwarks. Both Tommy Chen and Loren Hart have said that only two molds were needed to make an LNVT. According to Lani Hart, the hull mold was a clam shell type and bolted together along the the keelson. These pictures were taken at Ocean Eagle Yachts, Pali Hsiang, Taiwan, sometime in 1986.

Loren Hart stands in front of the 'buck' which when skinned will become the plug for the 49 hull mold.
The 49 topsides plug and the 49 hull plug

Similar Boats

Other cruising boats built in the style of a tugboat include those manufactured by Nordic Tugs in Burlington, Washington, USA , American Tug manufactured by Tomco Marine Group, Inc., in LaConner, Washington, USA, Ranger Tugs manufactured in Kent, Washington, USA, and Crosby Tugs made by Crosby Yachts in Osterville, MA. Victory Tugs also share a variety of attributes with cruising trawler style boats including those manufactured by Kadey-Krogen Yachts Inc., headquartered in Stuart, Florida, USA and those made by Grand Banks Yachts, Ltd., headquartered in Seattle, Washington, USA .

Scale Models

This from the Dumas Model web site:

Everybody has an opinion as to which boat they like the best. Here at Dumas, the opinion poll winner is the Victory Tug. There are a number of reasons why this charming little ship has captured the hearts of so many modelers. At 28 inches long, it is perfect for those of us with smaller working areas. The quality materials, such as the bass wood planking, and stainless steel rails lead to an excellent building result. Basically, everybody loves tug boats, and the Victory Tug with all of her natural wood and scruffy good looks is an exceptional find. Length 28 inches Beam 10 inches Scale 3/4 in. to 1 ft.


Published Articles & Other References

  • 2007 Powerboat Guide, Ed McNew, Lord Nelson 37 Victory Tug, 1984-89, p. 896
  • Backus, Jim, Victory 37 Design Review pdficon.gif.
  • BMW D-150 Diesel Engine Brochure pdficon.gif.
  • Boatworks Inc., The, A Brochure Tilted: The Victory 37 Tugboat pdficon.gif
  • Classic Yacht Magazine, Victory in Seattle, p. 26-31, by Tom Blackwood, Dec. 2006/Winter 2007 pdficon.gif.
  • Classic Yacht Magazine, Living Legends—Jim Backus, p. 32-34, Dec. 2006/Winter 2007 pdficon.gif.
  • Classic Yacht Magazine, Victory in The Pacific, p. 58-64, by Tom Blackwood, Spring 2007 pdficon.gif.
  • Cummins Corporate Newspaper, Twin Cities couple takes to the water with help from Cummins, about Kedge #43 pdficon.gif.
  • Hart, Lani, Victory Tug History, December 2010, pdficon.gif.
  • Hai O Yachts, Shipping Checklist for Hull #15pdficon.gif.
  • Heartland Boating magazine, Wisconsin Couple Loves Tugging Along, p. 30-32, by Gary Kramer pdficon.gif.
  • The Kitsap Sun, August 26, 2006, Tugboats Steaming Around Kitsap, by Shawna Walls, pdficon.gif
  • Hai O Yachts, Shipping Checklist for Hull #15pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc. Brochure featuring both 37 and 49 ft models pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Brochure featuring 37 ft (BMW engine) model pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Brochure featuring 37 ft (Cummins engine) model pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Brochure featuring 41 ft model pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Brochure featuring 49 ft model pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., LB—At the Helm, by David G. Brown pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Yard Memo on 37 upgrades pdficon.gif.
  • Lord Nelson Yachts, Inc., Why Buy a Lord Nelson (Tug) pdficon.gif.
  • Lady Margaret, A 37-foot Lord Nelson Victory Tug That's Not Recommended for Introverts, Nor'westing, November 2011 pdficon.gif.
  • Maple Leaf Yachts, Original 1984 invoice for LNVT 37VT12 pdficon.gif.
  • Nor'westing Magazine, The Liveaboard Lifestyle pdficon.gif.
  • NW Classics: Guinea Rider A Salty 49-foot Lord Nelson Victory Tug, Nor'westing Magazine, Volume 45, Issue 5 pdficon.gif.
  • Out Look, The Magazine for Savvy Seniors, Holiday Issue '07, Loon the cover girl pdficon.gif.
  • Power and Motoryacht, Tugboat Peggy, Jan. 1986, p. 50-52, by Mike and Anne Adair pdficon.gif.
  • Soundings Magazine, Ready and Able, Tugs reflect the working-class heritage of their Forebears by Steve Knauth, Staff Writer pdficon.gif.
  • Sea Magazine, December 2006, Lord of the Tugs
  • Western Boatman magazine Oct 1984, Lord Nelson Victory 37 Tug, Cover photo, p. 37-39 pdficon.gif.
  • Yachting, The New Old-Timers, p. 65-66 & 86-87, by Charles Barthold pdficon.gif.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License